Some­where spe­cial to eat

The Insider's Guide to New Zealand - - SOUTH ISLAND -

What he once did for Otago rugby and the Maori All Blacks, Steve “Hotty” Hot­ton is do­ing for the cui­sine of the Waitaki Val­ley. For sev­eral years, when he played the sport pro­fes­sion­ally in Europe and for a time af­ter­wards, he also ap­pren­ticed him­self to the own­ers of fam­ily-owned cafés and restau­rants in France and Italy. There he learned the im­por­tance of pro­duc­ing a re­ally good coffee and the tech­niques of mak­ing sim­ple food em­phat­i­cally de­li­cious.

While most of the lo­cals still pine for their white bread sand­wiches and filled rolls, vis­i­tors trav­el­ling through the val­ley – es­pe­cially those on the A2O trail – are rav­ing about the snacks and lunches at the Val­ley Café, es­pe­cially Steve’s merino pie, an en­tirely dif­fer­ent species from the grey and greasy mut­ton pie. Then there are the twice­cooked pork bel­lies, the creamy, fra­grant, pale-yel­low Moroc­can chicken pie, piz­zas with piz­zazz, salmon steaks and var­i­ous merino cuts in sea­son: neck steaks, back straps, mar­i­nated leg steaks... enough food to feed the en­tire team.

While learn­ing his trade in France and Italy, Steve be­came en­tranced with char­cu­terie, the dried and smoked meats of those coun­tries. Game­keeper Prod­ucts are sold within The Val­ley Café where Steve makes and sells cin­na­mon ba­con and var­i­ous dried and smoked meats as well as stuffed pigs’ hocks, duck con­fit, rab­bit con­fit, mut­ton ham, ril­lettes, porc farce (swoon) and 10 dif­fer­ent types of re­ally chunky sausages with nei­ther fillers nor preser­va­tives. The most fa­mous of these are the Pip­squeak­ers, a kids’ sausage with a bit of

meat and a lot of veg­eta­bles.

Sum­mer hours: Tues­day to Sun­day, 9am to 4pm, and late night Fri­day. Win­ter hours: Wed­nes­day to Sun­day 9am to 4pm. Game­keeper Prod­ucts & The Val­ley Café, 16 Bledis­loe Street, (03) 436 0138

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